The Thursday Murder Club (and the next three in the series)

reviewed by Wendy Tucker
by Richard Osman

In 2020 forty publishers bid for the rights to this first novel by television presenter and producer, Richard Osman. It has become the biggest selling adult crime novel since records began and Spielberg immediately purchased the film rights. Osman has since written three more novels in the series with equal success: The man who died twice in 2021, The bullet that missed in 2022 and The last devil to die in 2023. He is now about to publish the first book in a new series and The Thursday Murder Club film is in production with a star-studded cast.
So why all the fuss for a cosy crime series?
It’s the setting, the characters and the writing. The setting is an upmarket retirement village with swimming pool, leisure activities and an excellent restaurant with fine wines. The main characters are: Elizabeth, an ex-spy with contacts and enemies in high places; Joyce, a former nurse who cooks and wears pastels – Joyce may not be noticed but she notices everything. Ebrahim , originally from Egypt is fastidious and was a psychiatrist with a great and knowing generosity. Ron was a trade union leader with strong opinions and a love of football.
They have a lifetime of experience, of empathy and all the joys and sorrows of a long life. They have seen it all. Throughout the series we learn their backstories. The one thing they have in common is that they have gotten older and become invisible but rage against the common depiction of old age. They fit together because these novels are essentially about friendship and longing and being true to who we are. This makes it so much more than a cosy crime and accounts for its success. All the main and lesser characters are fully drawn. These are not plot driven novels they are characters driven and the reader falls in love and knows them well.
The writing is very funny, very British, at times tragic-comic and also at times unbearably poignant.
I want more.